The Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle is pushing along with preliminary steps to seek funding for a new center in Oktibbeha County.
BGC Golden Triangle CEO Nadia Colom spoke to the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors at Monday’s meeting to request support in seeking a community block grant to help fund the project.
Colom said the current Oktibbeha County club, located at Lynn Lane in Starkville, has been a good facility. However, the club has seen growth beyond what the building can accommodate. BGC Golden Triangle impacted more than 1,600 children last year, Colom said, and about 700 of them were in Oktibbeha County.
“We’ve been in the facility that we’re currently in now for about 16 years,” Colom said. “While it has served a tremendous purpose for us in being able to see at least 140 children each day at the club, this summer we had a difficult time turning down 100 more children who could have been served because we just didn’t have the space.”
Colom further noted the Starkville facility doesn’t have the kitchen amenities to provide hot meals to students, as the Columbus club does.
“The schools have been a tremendous partner so we’ve been able to do some things in the summer as far as providing breakfast and lunch, but in the after-school hours, it really becomes something that’s a challenge for us,” she said.
Supervisors unanimously voted to allow Colom to work with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District to seek a block grant for funding the club.
“This could be just what we’re looking for,” District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said. “We never know until we submit the proposal.”
District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller said the new club is a “great idea” and encouraged Colom to return to the board once the grant application is submitted.
“The county has people that lobby for it, so once you get that application done, make sure you come back to the board and we can get it to the correct people who lobby for the county,” she said. “A lot of times that goes a lot further than just here at the local level when you’ve got somebody and they actually can go into these offices and ask people that have one-on-one relationships with them if this can happen.”
BGC Golden Triangle is planning to build its new facility in Westside Park on North Long Street. Colom said the new facility is being designed with ideas Mississippi State University architecture students crafted during a design charette in the fall.
The organization also is looking to build a new club in West Point, and Colom said she’s waiting to hear back from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program with regards to the feasibility of seeking grant funding for the project.
West Point hasn’t had a club since 2001. Colom said BGC Golden Triangle is looking to build its new West Point Facility on Fifth Street near the civic center. Students currently attend the club’s after school programs at Fifth Street School about a block away, a temporary site until the new permanent facility is built.
Colom told The Dispatch there are preliminary designs in place for both clubs. However, she said BGC Golden Triangle hasn’t yet finalized the design or costs for either and hopes that step will be finished in the coming weeks.
“We haven’t gotten fine-turned down to cost-estimated project yet,” she said. “I would say we’ll have that later this month. We’re going to have to because that application for the community block grant will require it.”
BGC Golden Triangle launched the “36 Reasons” fundraising campaign in November 2017, which seeks to raise $1 million to $1.5 million for the new clubs in Starkville and West Point. Colom said the campaign has, so far, raised about $50,000 for the Starkville club and $35,000 for the West Point club.
Colom added that BGC Golden Triangle’s plan is to share resources between facilities in Columbus, Starkville and West Point for the entire region. For example, she said Columbus has a basketball gym that’s suitable for all of the Golden Triangle clubs to use, and there are plans to have an outdoor multipurpose field in West Point and an indoor swimming pool in Starkville that fill the same regional use goals.
She added that the club’s impact could go beyond just club members.
“What we’re proposing is not just a home for the Boys and Girls Club, but a facility that the community can fully embrace and take pride in, that can be put in an area where everyone can have access to it,” Colom said. “There are services there that provide support to the entire community.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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